Tag Archives: drama

Proof

“Of course we all come to the theatre with baggage. The baggage of our daily lives, the baggage of our problems, the baggage of our tragedies, the baggage of being tired. It doesn’t matter what age you are. But if our hearts get opened and released — well that is what theatre can do, and does sometimes, and everyone is thankful when that happens.”
– Vanessa Redgrave

Tonight is Ashe County Little Theatre’s opening night of PROOF by David Auburn. I’m the director.

The director.

As someone who has only chosen to be on the stage for 30+ years, this is the first time that I’ve truly seen the “other side” of theatre. I’ve been a part of this process from the very beginning – from the very first day as I sat all curled up on my couch in my pajamas reading this random script that I had found at Goodwill.  (Yes! Goodwill!)  I’m not generally a “script reader.” But this one caught my attention – not only because I found it at Goodwill (I mean, seriously – who finds a theatre script at Goodwill!?), but because of the content. It was amazing. It was funny, dramatic, romantic, sad….real. I was hooked.

I remember gasping during one part and my husband looking over at me asking if I was okay. I looked up at him and my only response was, “I have to direct this show.”  Not, I want to be in this show.  But I want to direct it. I had never directed anything before. But I knew now was the time.

And here I am a few years later. After months of worrying, laughing, crying, rehearsing, rehearsing, and more rehearsing, I will have the privilege and honor of watching my beautiful cast make this story come to life tonight at the Ashe Civic Center.

Photo by Troy Brooks of Ashe Mountain Times

I want you to take a look at this group of people here to your right. These people (including a few more who aren’t pictured) have become my family. While struggling to bring you, the audience, a story about love, life, loss and moving on, each and every one you see sitting on that stage has been going through the exact same things in their personal lives. Bringing you a little two-hour production is not easy. Each of us are real people – we have lives off of the stage. And if you can name it, someone on that stage has probably experienced it in the past few months. Marital problems, job losses, family trouble…even the death of family members (two of us lost our grandmothers and one of us lost our mother, just in the eight weeks of rehearsals for this show). So much life has been happening to us behind the scenes.

But has that stopped us?  Nope.

The love of theatre – the love of art itself – is a hard thing to describe. You know the saying, the show must go on? Well, it must. It’s a pull in our souls that we can’t explain. We have to tell you this story. We just have to. All of us. From the director, to the volunteers who are moving the set around in between scenes – each and every one of us knows that we have to play our part in bringing you this story. Why? Heck, we don’t know. We just know it has to be told. And nothing will stop us from telling it.

I hope you’ll find a way to come see our show. We have poured our heart and soul into telling you a story, and we want you to come hear it. We want you to find yourself in this show – whether it be remembering what a first love felt like, remembering the tragedy of a loss, or finding confidence in yourself to pursue the dreams you know you’re capable of – you are going to see a piece of you in one or more of these characters.

This is theatre.  We have all felt what each other has felt, and we are going to get up on a stage and show you that. You are not alone. None of us are.

Come join our family this weekend, won’t you?

Allow me to leave you with the perfect words to describe our show and why you should be there. This is from one of the four stars of Proof: my dear friend, Ike Smith.

“Proof is a thoughtful, compelling story that at its root is about relationships: parent/child, sibling/sibling, and romantic. It’s about how people connect — or disconnect — when life becomes unexpected and uncertain. It’s about how we deal with conflict, both internal and external.

Is PROOF a comedy? Maybe, -ish. Is it a drama? Sort of. Sometimes it’s funny, and sometimes it’s serious, and that’s life. PROOF is real.

David Auburn wrote a great story, and we’ve got a great cast and crew to tell it for you. If you can, please join us. You won’t regret it.”

See you tonight!


***

“The theater-goer in conventional dramatic theater says: Yes, I’ve felt that way, too. That’s the way I am. That’s life. That’s the way it will always be. The suffering of this or that person grips me because there is no escape for him. That’s great art — Everything is self-evident. I am made to cry with those who cry, and laugh with those who laugh.”
– Bertolt Brecht

All show rehearsal photos by Bobbi Jo Scott, Producer.

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Drama Break

 “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
– Isaac Asimov

Last month was a month of  many changes for me.

If any of you are regular readers, you’ll probably notice that my posts have dropped dramatically lately. In fact, I only posted one last month, which was in honor of the death of a friend.  I’ve had many things to write about – too many, in fact – but I just couldn’t seem to find the words.  Everything that was happening was big stuff. Big changes – some good, some bad. Lots of “blog bling” as I like to call it….but the words just weren’t rising to the occasion.  And I couldn’t figure out why that was.

liz

Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert…Squeeee!

But then I stumbled across some notes I had taken last year when I went to a talk by my favorite author, Elizabeth Gilbert.  Something she said had resonated with me at the time, so I jotted it down. She said:

“I have found that I cannot write drama while I’m living drama.”

Oh.  Okay, I get it now.

How right she was about that. I’m the same way. When I write, there has to be calm. The room has to be quiet, the chores have to be done, there can’t be anything pressing that needs my attention…there just needs to be calm.  And my life lately?  Heh.  There’s not much calm going on here.

mePatty

Patches – February 6, 2015

First of all, on February 7, I lost my beloved cat, Patches. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve probably heard about Patches a time or two. In fact, she helped me make it into Chicken Soup for the Soul for the second time with the article I wrote about her and her “step-brother” entitled Tattle Tail. Patches was my girl. She had been with me through a lot over the past six years. She was a rescue kitty and I wasn’t exactly sure how old she was when I got her – but her age had really started showing in the past few months. And on February 7, she gave up the fight…while laying in my arms.

There was so much I wanted to write about Patches. I lost my little buddy – surely she deserved a blog post, didn’t she?  But I just couldn’t find the words. Me – the person who has “words” for everything, had no words for the loss of my sweet little pet.

And to add to the “drama” – see this picture?

meLenny

This picture was taken literally within an hour of my losing Patches.  This is Lenny – the rescue pup that we were on our way to pick up from animal control when Patches died in my arms. Talk about drama. My emotions were all over the place. I had to switch emotional gears in a way I don’t think I’ve ever had to do before. To go from such grief to such happiness within minutes…it was just too much.

meLenny3

Lenny and I on the car ride home

But Lenny helped me out.

See, Lenny was scared too. And confused. He had no idea what was happening. We practically had to drag him into the car because the poor little thing didn’t know what was waiting for him. Once we finally got him in, I climbed in the back with him – teary eyes and all – and he immediately just made his way into my lap and snuggled. We both needed that. No excited tail wagging or licking or any of that puppy stuff – nope. Just calm, confused, scared snuggling. Oh, how we needed each other that morning. I’m not exactly sure who saved who, to tell you the truth.

(By the way – once Lenny got home and settled, that puppy nature came out full force!  He’s such a happy boy and our lives are so much happier with him here. Ain’t he a cutie?)

meLenny2

Lenny lovin’

So, here I was with another major life event to write about – a new little furry member of the family – and still…nothing.

And then came even more changes.

A new job.

I have had a major commute for work for most of my life. In fact, the last time that I lived and worked in the same county, I was eighteen years old. EIGHTEEN. (Now, I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was exactly, but just trust me…it was a long time ago.) And suddenly, I was faced with the opportunity to switch jobs and take a position that was only 14 miles from home. It was such a hard decision to make – I loved my old job and loved the people there. But really, work was the only thing I had in that town. When I was faced with the opportunity to do the same work (with a bit more responsibility…which, for me, is a good thing) and do it closer to home, I just had to take it.

Today was my first day.

And, again, more blog bling. Loss of a pet. A new furball to love. And now a job change. Blog bonanza, man. And what did I have to say about it all?

A big fat nothing. *sigh*

So, I return to the words of my mentor – “I cannot write drama while I’m living drama.” Writing is a way for me to process things. I see things, I feel them, and then I process them through a blinking cursor on a blank computer screen. Sometimes, that process is a quick one. And then other times…the real times…the times that shake me up a bit – well, those are the times that may take just a bit longer.  And you know what?

That’s okay.

No more fussing at myself for not writing. For not running. For not reading. For not….well, whatever. Sometimes my heart just needs a little time to get back to its regular rhythm before it lets my brain in on the secret that it’s time to get back to normal. I’ll be back. Heck, I just wrote this. I guess I am back.

I just needed a little downtime, that’s all.

Thank you all for still being here.  I’m just human, I suppose. Life happens. And eventually, I get back in the swing of things and start putting those happenings into words again.  That’s the thing about writing. It never goes away. It’s there. It’s always there…just waiting on the green light from its human container.

Hopefully, traffic is flowing again now.

***

“I think what makes people fascinating is conflict, it’s drama, it’s the human condition. Nobody wants to watch perfection.”
– Nicholas Cage

Family Tree

“I find the family the most mysterious and fascinating institution in the world.”
– Amos Oz

familytree

My family tree is a little lop-sided.

Okay, I guess I should explain what I mean by that.

I come from two completely opposite families.  On one side – my mother’s side – you have the big, boisterous family.  My mom is one of 9 biological brothers and sisters and then, later in life, added so many step-siblings to that total that I’ve lost count.  family2bAnd then she herself ended up having five children, of which I’m the oldest, so you can imagine that there weren’t many moments of quiet and solitude in my life while growing up.  When I think of that side of the family – the siblings, the cousins, the aunts, the uncles, etc. – I think of laughter and loudness.  Of drama and emotion.   Of lots and lots of outspoken love and endless support. Variety.  Open-mindedness.  Freedom.

And then.  Well, then there’s my father’s side.

My father is an only child.  His mother, my grandmother, is also an only child.  There are no aunts.  No uncles.  No cousins.  It’s always been…well, just us.  And when I think of that side of the family, the thoughts that pop into my mind couldn’t be more different than when I think of the other.  family5bNo, with this side, I think of calm.  Of quiet.  Of dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s.  Of keeping emotion and drama locked up tight and making sure you don’t stand out.  Blending.  Conforming.  Behaving.

Now, I understand that I have just painted this side in a more negative light, but I really don’t mean to do that.  There are pros and cons of both sides.  For instance, on my mom’s side, it’s a little easy to get lost in the crowd.  No one notices everything you do because they have their eyes on so many others.  There will be weeks, months even, without phone calls.  (But that’s okay, because we all know we’ll pick right back up where we left off whenever we do cross paths again.)

But on my dad’s side?  No, there is no getting lost in the crowd.  You are always thought of.  Missed.  Examined under a microscope.  Expected to pick up the phone and make contact in regular intervals.  You are definitely remembered, never forgotten about, and constantly noticed.

Well, as you can imagine, being someone that comes from such different ends of the spectrum has managed to play with my head a little.  The other day, at the insistence of a bored friend, I took an unofficial online personality test.  As I went through the test answering questions about such things as my preference of being alone or in a crowd, and where I stand when I walk into a crowded room (middle or edge?), I noticed that some of my answers were contradicting each other.  And that seemed odd to me.  Do I like crowds or don’t I?  Do I like being the center of attention or don’t I? Taking this test made me think of another odd inconsistency I’ve noticed in my life.  Any time I’m headed to a large get-together, I dread it and think I’d rather be doing anything else – and then, I get there, and I have a blast.   What the heck is up with that?!

Now that I think about it, I can’t help but realize that these inconsistencies in my personality most likely stem from the two opposing influences I had growing up.  Yeah, yeah, I know – everybody blames everything on their parents [cue the mental image of me lying on a couch in a psychiatrist’s office telling him all about my crazy childhood…].  But seriously, in this case, I think I’m probably on to something.  We are influenced by our family, whether we like it or not.

Which brings me to the real reason I’m writing this blog.

Some of you may have seen the post I wrote about my Grandma a few blogs ago.  Thinking that I had done a good thing by writing it, I sent her a copy.  Now, think back to what I just told you about my two families.  This Grandma?  Well, this is the grandma from my father’s side of the family.  The ‘keep what you think to yourself’ side.  The ‘don’t go airing our business for all the world to see’ side.  The ‘can’t you keep your mouth shut for once?’ side.  And, well, as you can probably guess, Grandma was none too happy with what I wrote about her.

Now, I knew this was a possibility.  I did.  I haven’t been completely blind for the last 35 years.  But I thought that since I was telling about this wonderful thing that she was doing, I hoped that maybe she could see that and realize that others reading her story might actually do some good in the world.  And honestly, I thought that it showed how proud I am of her.  Being that we’re the ‘shhhh…don’t talk about important stuff’ family, I thought this would be a way to show her that I think she’s pretty darn cool.  But, alas.  Nope.  That’s not how she saw it apparently.  She thinks I made her look “mean” and that I shouldn’t be talking about private things in such a public way.

*sigh*

Now, I could pretend that it didn’t bother me.  And I did.  For a while.  But as soon as I hung up the phone, the pretending stopped.  The part of me that is like the other side of the family started to peek through, and immediately the tears started falling.  My boyfriend Richard had overheard the whole thing and immediately came and wrapped me in his big ‘everything’s gonna be okay’ arms and told me how proud he was of me for writing it.  Of course, I was upset and told him that I felt like ‘never writing again,’ etc. etc.  So he suggested an alternative.  Rather than not writing, maybe I should just go write another blog, only this time write it just for myself.  Go back to the private blog world for a bit and write the things that I really feel.  Just vent, get it over with, and then delete it and move on.  No missyspublicjunk this time.  Just write some private junk all for myself and get all that crap out on paper. (Heh…little did he know, he suggested the very thing that I already do about him all the time!  Shhhh.)  So, thinking that was some pretty good advice, I headed to the computer to do just that.

And here I am.

I struggled in my brain with not posting this publicly, but suddenly it occurred to me that I was fighting those opposing forces in my head.  Yes, I could write this privately and make that side of the family (i.e. that side of my personality) happy, or I could stay true to the real me and just go ahead and post it.  And if there’s something I’m learning as I get older, it’s to do that “staying true to the real me” thing a heck of a lot more often than I used to.  And, so far, it’s made for a much happier me in the process.  So, I think I’m going to stick to it.

But, oddly, a funny thing happened as I started writing.  The anger and bitterness that I thought I felt towards my Grandma suddenly started giving way to something else.  Rather than concentrating on the fact that she was upset, I concentrated on the why part.  She said that she thought I made her look ‘mean.’  Mean?  Really?  I went back and reread my blog and I didn’t see that at all.  What I see is not ‘mean.’  What I see is ‘strength.’  At first I thought maybe my writing didn’t convey what I had intended.  But as I read, and reread, I realized that it does.  It doesn’t make her look mean, it makes her look strong.

And suddenly, a light bulb went off in my head.  Maybe ‘strong,’ in her mind, equates to ‘mean’?  My grandmother grew up in a very different time than I did.  She grew up in a time where women were to play their appointed ‘roles’ and nothing more.  She was a wife.  A mother.  A cook.  A housekeeper.  A caregiver.  She played the role of her time perfectly.  She was subservient to her husband.  She never got a drivers license (even though she worked for years) because it was not a woman’s place to drive.  She kept her opinions to herself if they didn’t match the man’s opinion, because it wasn’t her place to speak up.  She was a woman.

Well, this woman is now a widow.  She now has no man to take care of her and is forced to do things on her own.  And now, more than ever, I see her spunk shining through.  She is the woman who has to kill snakes when they get too close to the house (see previous blog).  She is the woman who has to fix the plumbing problems when they pop up.  She is the woman who has to be ready, no matter the circumstances, to fend for herself.  She is alone.  And in this loneliness, whether she likes it or not, a strength has developed.  She is tougher.  And that strength, that toughness, is what I was trying to convey in my blog.  And, as evidenced by her discomfort with it, I think I must have succeeded.

So am I sorry I wrote it?  No.  Not one bit.  I meant every word of it.  And will I continue writing what’s on my mind?  You bet I will.  Of course there are some things that will still remain private (I’m not an idiot), but the things like this – this blog that has been stirring inside my mind for the past 24 hours begging to get out – these words will be posted.  They just have to be.  I’m a writer.  I have no choice but to get it out.

I have no choice but to be true to me.

Why?  Because I’m strong.  Just like my grandmother.

megrandma

(Oh, and P.S. – you can bet your patooty that I won’t be sending this one to her.  Rebel?  Maybe.  But death wish?  Nope.)

***

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”
– George Bernard Shaw

Bus Driver

Ok, I lied.

Remember Friday when I said I was going to do the daily “what I’m thankful for” thing during the month of November?  Well.  I guess that’s not happening.

Here we are – November 4th – and I have written a grand total of….ONE blog.  Crap.

It’s not that I’m not thankful for things.  I am.  It’s just that I don’t like forcing myself to write.  Telling myself to write every day makes it feel like a chore.  And for me, writing cannot turn into a chore.  It’s one of my only escapes from life’s many other chores as it is.  And besides, I’ve been grumpy as crap over the past few days, so forcing myself to write about what I’m thankful for during my current mindset would have been about as productive as the time I tried to give my cat a bath.

catbath

Get my drift?

So, I skipped a few days.  And I’m probably going to be skipping a few more if I’m going to just be quite honest with you.  I’m just a tad too much of a cynic to come up with a cutesy thankful blog every single day, anyway.  Again, it’s not that I’m not thankful for things.  I just don’t feel like being forced to vomit sunshine and roses every day for a month.  Because some days just aren’t conducive to that kind of…um…’product.’

But, even with that being said, I do, however, want to give a shout out to someone I noticed over the weekend.

My daughter’s school drama club had their annual drama competition on Saturday.  It was in another town – about a two-hour drive – and the team was being transported by bus.  Since they had performed their skit the night before at the school for parents, none of the parents were going along on the Saturday trip.  Except me – the one parent who works in a separate state which kept her from getting to the Friday night performance on time.  So, with the coach’s advance permission, I rode along on the bus with the kids.

Now, believe me when I tell you that there was not a dull moment on that bus ride.  I like to think I’m a pretty young and hip momma, but shew!  I was exhausted before we even got to the competition.  They were great kids, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t mean there was any trouble or anything like that – it was just loud.  LOUD.  And there was so much energy.  Where do they get that from??  I sure do wish I could’ve siphoned some of it into a bottle to take with me to my half marathon in a few days.  Good grief!bus

Well, we got to the competition, and they all performed their little hearts out.  But, sadly, when the results were tallied, not only did they not win, but they actually came in last place. 😦  Talk about a bunch of sad kiddos.  That energy that I mentioned before?  Yeah, it had turned down quite a few notches by the time they all piled back on the bus for the trip home.  While they truly did have a great attitude about the whole thing, the disappointment was evident in all of their faces and body language.  They just couldn’t hide it.

So, we start the much quieter trip home, and someone (in hopes of lifting everyone’s spirits) gets the idea to ask the bus driver if they could play one of their CDs on his stereo system on the bus.  From my safe little seat near the front of the bus (my, how things have changed from when I was a teen myself…), I could see what I expected to be a stern “No, now sit back down and let me drive” from the bus driver.  But, to my surprise, he not only allowed it, but asked them if they wanted him to crank it.  Ha!  What a pointless question – this was a bus full of teenagers.  So, crank it, he did.  Now, we all know the healing power of music, and this was no exception.  As the decibel rose, so did those kids’ spirits.  Before long, there was laughter, singing, and even some “dancing” (at least I think that’s what you call that these days…).  Just like that, the teens’ disappointment was all but forgotten and the bus trip returned to its original state from earlier in the day.  A bus full of happy kids with nothing to worry about except hoping their parents were there at the school to pick them up upon their return.

So, we got back safe and sound (well, maybe our ears were a little worse for wear, but other than that…).  As we were all piling off the bus, myself lagging near the end, I stopped and put my hand on the bus driver’s shoulder and said, “you have the most patience of anyone I’ve ever known.”  His response?  “Nah.  I didn’t mind at all.  They only get to be young once.”

Wow.  Did you hear that?

“They only get to be young once.”

What a guy.  What a philosophy.  What a reminder.

Because of this one man’s positive attitude and flexibility, a potentially depressing bus ride home for a bunch of devastated teenagers turned into the happy, fun-filled trip that it should have been all along.  I wonder if he realizes that?  I wonder if this man knows how contagious his one little attitude ended up being for a busload of kids…and one somewhat grumpy momma?

I hope so.

So, even though I have failed miserably at doing my daily duty of documenting the things I’m thankful for each day, I would still like to add Mr. Bus Driver to the list anyway.  I am thankful for people like him.  People who think of the wellbeing of others before himself.  People who sacrifice a full day of their time to transport a bunch of kids to some event hours away, and then sacrifices his own comfort to be sure they had the best time they possibly could’ve had.  I’d like to think I’d have been the same way if I were him, but I honestly don’t know. I probably would have been tired.  And grumpy.  And ready to go home.  And not willing to listen to the laughter and loud music while I drove all that way after spending an entire day with teenagers.  But see, that’s why I’m not a bus driver.  And that’s why he is.

So, welcome to my small thankful list, bus driver dude.  You made an impact on more people than you probably realized, including myself.  Thank you for being in the right place at the right time.

This blog’s for you.

***

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
– Winston Churchill

Fear

bebrave

I had to do a short TV inteview yesterday morning for our local theatre’s upcoming production of Life With Father.

Holy crap, I was TERRIFIED!

How strange is that?  I’m an actress.  I’m a writer. I post my life on Facebook.  I post my life on this blog.  I tell the world anything they want to know (and plenty more that they don’t).  So, why on Earth would having to sit in front of a TV camera for 5 minutes make me feel like I was going to hyperventilate? 

But, alas.  I survived.

I saw the video clip of the interview this morning.  In fact, I’m going to suck it up and just share it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgkZoP_f7TU&feature=youtu.be

Yep, that was it.  Five minutes of answering a few easy questions and then it was over. 

And now?

Well…now I think it’s kinda cool. 🙂

All that worry and fear over nothing.  Now I have this clip of this little interview I did on this little show and I can send it to my mom and she can be all proud of her little girl and whatnot.  And that’s it.  It’s all a memory now.

Kind of makes you think about how silly fear usually ends up being in the end after all, doesn’t it? 

You spend all this time psyching yourself out over something and then it turns out to really not be all that bad.  Sometimes it even turns out to be something kinda cool.  In this case, I just sucked it up and overcame the fear and just went ahead and did it.  But it makes me think about all the times that I may not have done that.  All the times in my life that I had the chance to do something that scared me, but I opted out and chose safety instead.  How many “little video clips” do I not have stashed in my memory bank?  Seems a little ridiculous now that I think about it.  How much success did I manage to pass up?

I should probably stop that. 

You should probably stop that.

Let me leave you with some powerful, somewhat prophetic words by Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, Inc., who passed away in October 2011:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

We only get one go-around, people.  Only one.  Make it count.

***

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power…
You are free.”
– Jim Morrison